Taxi man barred after RTE probe opens legal fight
PUNISHED: Cab-hire dealer denies TV claims
A TAXI driver who was the subjct of a RTE's Prime Time Investigates programme has brought a legal challenge against a decision to suspend his PSV licences.
For several years Oluwaseyi Okerayi operated a business by hiring out both taxi plates and cars.
In May, the National Transport Authority suspended "with immediate effect" the 25 public service licences he held following the Prime Time programme, which alleged he rented out cars that were unroadworthy to people who did not have licences.
In his High Court proceedings, Mr Okerayi, of Fitzherbert Court, Slane Road, Navan, Co Meath, denies any wrongdoing alleged in the programme.
He says the decision to suspend the licences was "a kneejerk response to a sensationalist and inaccurate TV programme carried out without proper investigation".
He also argues there is no legal basis for the continuing the suspension because investigations and tests carried out by both gardai and the NTA show that nearly all his vehicles are roadworthy and not dangerously defective.
Permission to bring the proceedings, aimed at overturning the suspension, was granted at the High Court by Mr Justice Barry White on an ex-parte (one side only) basis.
The judge made the matter returnable before the High Court to a date next month when the new legal terms commences.
Moving the application Michael O'Higgins, appearing with Keith Spencer, said it was their client's claim that his licences were suspended on May 18 before any of his vehicles were inspected.
Nor were any reasons given to him for the suspension.
The NTA's decision is unfounded, unlawful, unfair, disproportionate, and that his rights have been violated.
Counsel said his client has made numerous requests to the NTA to have his suspension lifted.
Mr Okerayi has complied with all the NTA's requests but has been informed that his suspension will not be lifted because he has not complied with the NTA's requests for further documentation.
As a result of the suspension Mr Okerayi is now left without a livelihood and is in considerable financial arrears.
In an affidavit to the court Mr Okerayi, a married father of two children, who moved to Ireland from Nigeria in 2002, said that he was the subject of a Prime Time programme broadcast on May 16. He said the programme alleged he rented out cars that were unroadworthy to individuals who did not have licences.
He was "shocked when he saw the contents of the programme" as the broadcast "had deliberately misrepresented certain facts and distorted the true version of events".
He said he carries out the legitimate and lawful business of renting out taxi plates and vehicles and always checked out and took photocopies of driver's documentation before renting out a taxi. He always repaired any defects in the cars once their were brought to his attention.
Shortly after the programme was aired, representatives from the NTA seized documents from his home and he was informed that his licences were being suspended pending a further investigation.
He also rejected any suggestion in the RTE programme that his cars passed their NCT tests due to impropriety on his part.